Title: Monument 14 (Goodreads)
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: 04 Oct 2012
Series or Standalone: Series
Audio Length: ~7 hrs
The Author on the Web:
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
First Line: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus.
Monument 14 Series Order
Book 0.5: Dress Your Marines in White
Book 1: Monument 14
Book 1.5: Jake and the Other Girl
Book 2: Sky on Fire
Book 3: Savage Drift (~2014)
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne starts with a second person narrative and as I am not a fan of that style I almost turned it off immediately. Fortunately that didn’t continue for long and I continued on with the story and was pleasantly surprised by the results. Whenever I read a book by a debut author I never know what to expect its not just the words that are new by the voice and perspective. Emmy Laybourne chose to tell her post-apocalyptic story from a a teen boys perspective and I wasn’t quite expecting that. Its so east to fall into assumptions as a reader that female authors will typically write female POVs and male authors will write the boy perspective. So when the author does the opposite with what you expect its a bit surprising but not badly so.
Laybourne also chooses to set her story in a superstore, not unlike a Super-Walmart. She, like I’ve often done myself, has been in these stores and thought…well, this wouldn’t be a bad place to hole up during an apocalypse for you’ve got everything you need to survive for a good long while. Of course, in an apocalypse those are usually the first places to be raided so safety only goes as far as the security you have. Fortunately for the kids in Laybourne’s book they are driven into the story (literally) just as the sky starts opening up in this massive hail store that is the results of a larger disaster father away. There is a chain reaction of events that eventually leads to a cloud of toxic gas to be released into the air that affects those of particular blood types in a variety of ways. But since the kids got to the store just as events began to unfold they were able to secure it and so not only give themselves a great shelter but protection as well.
During the course of this story the reader doesn’t learn too much about the outside world. Thanks to an EM Pulse of some sort the network connecting everything is down (goodbye internet, deep breath addicts its just a book) so this is a very character driven story. There is Dean, our faithful narrator, and some others from his school as well as a bunch of younger kids and they are all just trying to survive hoping that their parents will come and rescue them. One thing that I recall most from this book is that there is a lot of cooking involved. It seemed an excessive amount of time was devoted to this, but as I was telling a friend on Twitter that I’d rather many cooking scenes than lots of long drawn out ones about paintball.
Monument 14 is evenly paced and made all the more scary as its premise is plausible. I can easily visualize these events coming about. But there was something lacking in the story that prevented me from falling head over heels in love with it. I liked Dean and his POV but never really connected with him as I’ve done with other book characters. I think part of my trouble was with the narration. Todd Haberkorn does a good enough job with the overall story telling but when it came to voices his little kid ones sounded overly whiney and his female voices just off. When it came to the male voices he always made them sound older than a teenager and so I always had to remind myself that the main characters were all ages 5 to 16 years in age.
As a debut, I think that Laybourne has promise. I liked the world that she created and even though I was a bit disappointed when I first learned that Monument 14 wasn’t going to be a standalone. I am curious to see where things will go next. There is a flood of dystopian/post-apocalyptic books out there and you can do worse than Monument 14 but its not my favorite in the genre either.